I would just like to say...

... the fact that someone comes across this blog at least once a week by googling "NPR is full of shit" just makes me ever so pleased with myself.

"Fat shiny pants" and "ASIAN MEN BONDAGE" not so much. The latter being in all caps makes me particularly nervous. Please don't hurt me.

Um. I've been on a super long vacation full of fuck all, other than dozens of movie marathons, lots of friends and food, pestering the hard-at-work 남친, indoor gardening and getting to all of the winter exhibitions I've been meaning to catch while I still can. By the way, the David LaChapelle exhibition at Seoul Arts Center was well worth the steepish 13,000 -- much larger than I expected it to be.

And now it's gone and fucking snowed. So that's me happily indoors for the remaining two days before I go back for the utter nonsense that the end of one school year and the beginning of a new one brings about. New head teacher. New class schedule. And a whole lot of shenanigans in between.

Yeah. I'll just keep taking it easy and enjoy the peace and quiet while I can. Spring semester is always a doosie.


Facebookin' with the 애들.

A couple of months back, I set up a Facebook account specifically for my students, because enough of the little buggers are on there now that I've been getting requests. And they don't need to know everything about my personal life, so Liz Teacher has her own account. It's been a great experience so far, especially since the students I'm "friends" with now are all my outgoing third graders, which means I can let my hair down with them quite a bit, and also I'll be able to keep in touch with them after they've gone.

But the things that have gone on. Haha. The greatest hits so far?

Well. The most popular question is....


Of course I do.

And some slightly less brilliant questions as well, such as:

"원래이름이[my full name in Korean]인가용??"

Then, there are the comments about Busan, who it wasn't difficult for them to find:

"쌤 남친귀여우시네요"

"wow handsome~~~"


"u didnt tell me u had a boy friend who is HOTTIE!!!(I am not gay kkk)"

Words I didn't need to know they knew. And my personal favorite of that bunch:


It's almost English, I think.

Then there are the ones who don't actually speak English, constantly trying to decode my messages until I translate them into Korean:


Which, at first, I tried to avoid doing until the popular consensus came back:


But the best result so far has definitely been this:


The feeling is very mutual. But talking together would be a little easier if they'd watch their typos, misspellings, grammatical errors and 애교. It's been hell on my rusty Korean. And I highly recommend getting your kids involved with a teacher version of your Facebook page for this exact reason.


Nobody loved you.

Sorry. I've been a very naughty blogger. But I'm just kind of dawdling along, enjoying my time off. Planting herbs. Cooking. Hanging out with friends. So, I thought at least I would leave you a little present. For no particular reason. None whatsoever. Just a nice little song from a band I was obsessed with in high school. Came on while I was on the bus today.

Enjoy, my dears.


Camp Weird.

Yesterday only two of the weirdest kids in school showed up for camp. I sent out a message and got a load of, "Teacher I forgot camp! I'll come tomorrow! I'm sorry!" in return.

It was cool, you know. We rocked it. But it was a little bit of an odd day. I'm going to be honest. A little fourth dimnesion. But it was nice to get to see the two in action when they actually felt comfortable for once and weren't being shouted down by their classmates. Weird kids have been relatively embraced by all of my previous classes, the other boys seeming somewhat protective of them. But the current first graders are pretty brutal. To be fair, though, one of these kids is very extremely weird. Earlier this year, he got a little too attached to a teacher and carved the entire surface of her car with entire paragraphs of writing and little drawings of animals.

I'm just glad I don't have a car.

Still, I don't know that I can handle another three hours of free association, nose picking and changing every answer to, "I love Teacher," with an awful lot of gape-mouthed middle distance staring in between. We need someone to break up the mix. So here's hoping.


Ramyeon changed my day.

Walking home from work today, I was thinking. I was thinking about how, a few months ago, shortly after I returned from the US, there was something strange in the air. A little bit threatening. A little bit sad. And, sure enough, it's been a rough few months. A little for me, but mostly for the people around me, who I love.

But today, I felt it again. This time it felt good. And a little bit hopeful.

I was standing in the convenience store, deciding which ramyeon my pathetic, lazy ass wanted to wolf down for lunch, before starting the project that was getting my apartment back up to my own standards, since it hasn't been properly top-to-bottom cleaned since a week and a half ago. And has seen one enormous Christmas party, several sleep-overs and one semi-disastrous baking/chocolate making session since then. I gave myself a break for the holidays. But today, lazy gross filthy time was officially over.

So. Ramyeon. Convenience story. I'm standing there, thinking hard, because actually I hardly ever actually buy ramyeon. I eat it if it's there, and it usually is, thanks to one person or another. But I don't willfully create that situation for myself very often. And I felt some eyes. Some eyes coming from a bit above my head and, as far as I could tell from my peripheral view, belonging to a fully grown man. I felt uncomfortable. I sighed, and shifted away a bit, and turned to stare back. Which is possibly not the best approach to take in such a situation, but it's the one that makes me feel the most satisfied, usually.

Daehyeon. Fucking Daehyeon.

This kid was not an asshole his first grade year (and my first year in Korea) -- he was the asshole. I fucking hated him. I really did. Then, sometime in his second grade year, something started to shift. I started to gain a lot more confidence in the classroom, especially in the area of student discipline. My lessons no doubt got a hell of a lot more organized, effective and interesting. And Daehyeon started to grow up a little bit. We reached some kind of distanced truce, born out of not like, but some kind of mutual respect. I was getting my shit together, and so was he. We could cope with each other.

His third grade year, everything changed. I don't know how or why, but suddenly Daehyeon and I were doing fucking alright. Better than alright. I kind of started to like the little bastard. By mid-year, I trusted him enough to put my $500 dollar camera in his hands and let him have free run of the school with it. He took some of my favorite photos of my students I have to date, and of me with my students. And he promptly returned the camera, fully in tact, at the end of the day.

Now, today in the convenience store, there he was standing beside me in the ramyeon aisle in the form of a man. This little five foot tatertot who nearly ruined my life three years ago. Just beaming down at me.

He put his arm across his chest and stuck out his hand to shake and bow and we just stood there for a while, smiling at each other. I didn't know what to do, because what I wanted to do was to hug him, so I just punched him in the chest instead, and laughed. I asked him how high school was going, and he said it was hell. His head was shaved down in a buzz cut. We smiled some more, and he shook my hand three more times. I slapped him on the back of his puffy coat and told him to be happy, and to please come visit me some time -- that I was still at my school. He shook my hand one more time and bowed his way out the door, still smiling.

If you'd told me, nearly three and a half years ago, that this day was coming, I'd have laughed in your face. It just goes to show that bearing grudges is no good. Because sometimes you can turn around twice, and even the rottenest kid will have turned into a good man.

And sometimes we get better, too.


Hell of a good day.

It was just one of those good days. The kind I don't write about nearly enough anymore, because I usually just too busy enjoying them. And the kind that reaffirms the fact that it's time to get back to hitting the Korean books every day, studiously, as before. Because without having done that, days like this wouldn't be possible. Or at least, not quite the same.

Due to all the drama this morning, I didn't get around to sending my usual, "Good morning! English camp is here and starts at this time so I'll be seeing you soon!" text that I normally send about thirty minutes before the first day, to make sure all of the students who are signed up don't forget and have all the information they need to end up in the right place at the right time. As a result, we only had five today. Two sent messages with their friends that they'll be in tomorrow. They're traveling with their families for the holiday, but that still left five missing. So. It was a small group, but small isn't always bad. We made our way through most of the activities I had scheduled, and the three boys who got lumped together who don't know each other have started loosening up and communicating a lot better while working on their activities. So. That was nice. And it's amazing how long three hours of camp felt when I first started teaching them, compared to now. I think mostly because, in the beginning, I was boring even myself. These days, we just whack right along. It's cake.

After camp had finished, I was in my office working on getting the materials in order for tomorrow's camp, and also finishing up my lesson for the 공부방 when 부장님 came up to invite me to lunch at a 선렁탕 restaurant with the other teachers and the principal and vice principal, which I wasn't expecting. It was fucking badass fare, and a restaurant I'll definitely be taking Busan back to.

Anyway. The food was good. Priorities and all. After that, I headed back to school to finish up a few more things, then back to the coffee shop to "study" aka play on my phone for a couple of hours before catching the bus to the study room. The boys were way too relaxed tonight, as it is officially their vacation, but it was nice because one of the more shy ones suddenly got up the gumption to just start jabbering away at me. It was his birthday last week and I had promised to bring him a present, but forgot. He promptly reminded me. I'll get him after the vacation. I super promised this time.

After we finished our lesson, the head teacher at the study room came in to follow up on a question she had asked me via text earlier in the week, which was what color I liked, because she wanted to make me a scarf as a present. I hadn't realized she was going to make it herself -- gaps in my Korean -- but got really excited, because I've been looking around all over the place trying to find knitting needles for about three weeks now. I knew I could get them in Seoul, but wanted to find a place closer to home. When I explained this, she pushed me out the door and into her car. We drove to Bupyeong Market, where her husband and eldest son work selling fruit. Her son, who I've met a few times before, joined us and as we made our way through the dark alleys together, there were shouts here and there coming out of doorways, greeting us as we passed. She must spend a lot of time there. She led me to a shop full ceiling to floor with yarns of all textures, thicknesses and colors.

She explained to the ajummas inside that I wanted to make a scarf, but that I had never knitted before, and they asked me what my favorite color was. Before I knew it, I was having red yarn of ever imaginable kind loaded into my arms for evaluation. I finally chose one, and then one ajumma shouted over her shoulder to her son, who came running over with a couple of needles. The ajumma pulled out a chair and pushed me down into it. She leaned over me, steadying her hands at eye level, and told me to watch. She quickly counted down thirty stitches, as she loaded the yarn onto the needle. Then she told me to watch again, as she slowly moved her fingers back and forth, demonstrating the simple stitch. One, two, three rows. Slowly, repeating the directions under her breath as she went. Then, she handed it to me. I imitated her motion for a few stitches, as she, the head teacher, the head teacher's son and a few others from the shop all stood over my chair chirping out various forms of praise and encouragement. Talk about pressure.

They made me stay seated there until they had watched me complete two whole rows, and then they were satisfied. Back out on the street, we ran into the head teacher's sister. I said goodbye, and climbed into a cab, where the confused taxi driver peered into his rear view mirror and asked if I was Korean. He then proceeded to chatter on, asking me how to say this or that in English, only about half of which I was able to answer. He really wanted to explain the news story on the radio to me, but was attempting to do so by..... asking me how to say Korean words in English. Haha. It was fucking cute. And the whole fucking ride home, he never caught on to what the problem was with that.

It was a good night. Full of kindness from people who don't owe me a damn thing. And one that would have seemed a lot colder, were I not able to understand what was coming out of the mouths of the people around me. During vacation time, my language situation suddenly takes a dramatic shift. At the study room, no one speaks English. The people in at the office speak little to no English. And otherwise, it's just me. It's a great time to take some serious steps forward. So tomorrow, I'll start studying again. Actually studying. Tonight, it's all about fumbling hands.

Always something.

Same old story, man. Turn up to work at 8 on the dot to get shit organized before camp starts at 9. And to work out whatever other surprise there is in store for me this year. Because there's always one. Like the classroom is being demolished. Or the computers have mysteriously all been removed. Or I'm locked out of the entire building.

This time was an oldie, but a goodie -- no electricity. In my office or in the classroom. The classroom, I wouldn't mind so much, since I pretty much expect this to happen and stopped making camp lesson plans which require use of the computer a long time ago. Well. Except that this particular classroom has no windows. So. That was an issue.

But my office? With my computer containing all my files and my printer and my copy machine? Problematic.

Seriously buying an external hard drive this week. Enough is enough.

Ran down to the administration office (once read of a teacher going directly to their VP to reportr one of these issues -- don't ever do that -- the VP does not work for you) to report it. The woman nodded. 알겠습니다. Lies. Twenty minutes later, nothing had changed. So I went to the main teacher's office in view of the 부장님 and 교감님 and asked one of the other teachers if I could use their computer for a moment. Of course, the 부장님 asked me what was wrong and I explained it. He told me to wait, and then went down to the administration office himself. Came back up. Said to go back up to my office, that the power was back on.

Still nothing. Wait another twenty minutes. Go back down to the teachers' office and explain that the power is still not on, and the students are due to arrive in twenty minutes, so if I could just please use a computer to print....

Now the 교감님 has taken notice and is getting irritated, so he calls the administration office himself. The power is on, he assures me. I was pretty sure that, at that point, it would be. Unless someone wanted to get in serious trouble, because our VP is kind of a tyrant.

Made it just by the skin of my teeth, printing files, making copies and loading files. Should've had that done on Friday, to be honest. But hey. This is why I show up early. Because it's always going to be something.

Glad we've got that out of the way. From here on, it should be smooth sailing. Unless I show up tomorrow to find a wall knocked out. But I think we're alright for now. Camps ahoy.